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"Roast Beef, Medium, is not only a food. It is a philosophy. Seated at Life's Dining Table, with the menu of Morals before you, your eye wanders a bit over the entrées, the hors d'oeuvres, and the things à la, though you know that Roast Beef, Medium, is safe and sane, and sure."
Edna Ferber (1887-1968), U.S. author. Roast Beef, Medium, Foreword (1911)

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When I was young, my mother always made Sloppy Joes from scratch. I am old enough to remember when Manwich came on the market - no more homemade Sloppy Joes. I too have used Manwich all my life until one day recently I was reading the ingredients on the can. I could not believe there was corn syrup in it. I then knew it was time to make it from scratch again.

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours (approximately) Serving Size: 6 sandwiches

  • 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup filtered tap water
  • 1 tablespoon minced dried onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced dried garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Accent
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • a pinch fresh ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon green bell pepper, finely minced
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 small or half a large bay leaf
  • hamburger dill chip pickles
  • Texas Pete hot sauce
  • sesame topped hamburger buns

Whisk the tomato paste with the water in a medium-size mixing bowl until smooth. Add the dried onions and garlic and stir. Add the salt and Accent and stir. Add the chili powder, celery seed, ground cloves, ground allspice and freshly ground nutmeg. Stir well to mix. Next add the sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and whisk well until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside and finely mince the green bell pepper. The green pepper must be finely minced, not just chopped. Add to the mixing bowl and stir well. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to blend.

Brown the ground beef chuck in a medium skillet over medium heat constantly breaking the meat up so there are no large chunks. Strain away the fat and turn the heat down to low. Add the strained meat back to the pan now over low heat and pour in the mixture. Stir well to combine and completely cover all the meat with the mixture. Add bay leaf and allow to come to a slight boil, about 5 minutes and cover. Simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes, stirring often, ensuring that the moisture on the lid makes it's way back into the pan. Remove the lid, stir, remove and discard the bay leaf. Continue to simmer over low heat until desired thickness, about 20 more minutes. There are no hard and fast times here; the longer it simmers covered, the more tender the finished meat will be. Thickness too is a personal preference.

To serve, either steam the buns or wrap them in a moist paper towel and microwave 5 to 8 seconds (know your microwave!) until just slightly steamed. Spoon desired amount of Sloppy Joe mix on the bottom half of the bun, top with hot sauce and cover with hamburger dill pickle slices. Serve with chips or your favorite fried potatoes.

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